Story Time: Digital Marketing as Conversation

9 months ago, Summer Chan


“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller” – Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 20th century author

While Mr. Chesterton may not be well known as a marketer, he marketed himself remarkably well.  He created a personal brand that is arguably more recognizable now than when he was alive.  When people heard him speak or read his writings, they remembered him.  They remembered him for many things, but primarily because he told great stories.  He made his subjects bigger and more enchanting than they seemed.  He made his characters more animated and punctuated than they may have come off otherwise.  He had a way of describing things that made people smile, even if they didn’t quite know why.  You can read a good number of his works for free here.  His essay, Asparagus, is a good example of his style.

Given all of this, what can the digital marketers of today learn from Mr. Chesterton’s example?  Three things. 

Digital marketing is the starting of a conversation
Conversations are personal.  To be personal, it should be relatable and intimate.  It should correspond to a need or longing, known or unknown, inside the customer you are trying to engage.  Digital marketers have a wide array of tools available to begin conversations.  But using the right tool is only half the answer.  The other half is crafting the right introduction to your product or service, choosing those words or phrases which are going to make your customer stop and say, “I want to know more.”

All good conversations involve storytelling
If you engaged me in conversation, I would listen only to the extent that you told a good story.  There should be something about my experience in listening that carries me along, like a hiker in the woods or a diver in the ocean.  What about your product or service resonates with basic human emotions?  What about your story corresponds to the human search for adventure?

All good stories appeal at once to the listener’s moral intuitions and imaginative capacity
Controversy aside, human nature is fundamentally good.  And a good digital marketer will appeal to our better angels by communicating the impression that their product or service is advancing the world in a positive direction.  They will enable us to view our lives as consumers as more than just buyers of goods, but as shapers of a better humanity.

Such is the power of storytelling.  Which story will you tell?

For information about career opportunities in digital marketing in Hong Kong, please contact Summer Chan at